duino elegies …

December 3, 2011

in Art & Literature,Spirituality

It is truly strange to no longer inhabit the earth,

to no longer practice customs barely acquired,

not to give a meaning of human futurity

to roses, and other expressly promising things:

no longer to be what one was in endlessly anxious hands,

and to set aside even one’s own

proper name like a broken plaything.

Strange: not to go on wishing one’s wishes. Strange

to see all that was once in place, floating

so loosely in space. And it’s hard being dead,

and full of retrieval, before one gradually feels

a little eternity. Though the living

all make the error of drawing too sharp a distinction.

Angels (they say) would often not know whether

they moved among living or dead. The eternal current

sweeps all the ages, within it, through both the spheres,

forever, and resounds above them in both.

 

Finally they have no more need of us, the early-departed,

weaned gently from earthly things, as one outgrows

the mother’s mild breast. But we, needing

such great secrets, for whom sadness is often

the source of a blessed progress, could we exist without them?

Is it a meaningless story how once, in the grieving for Linos,

first music ventured to penetrate arid rigidity,

so that, in startled space, which an almost godlike youth

suddenly left forever, the emptiness first felt

the quivering that now enraptures us, and comforts, and helps.

from the end of Rilke’s First Duino Elegy

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